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  1. #1
    AR Newbie Registered Member
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    CD Burning Software Quest

    Greetings All:

    I've newly arrived here at the recommendation of another forum member. So, here's the deal...

    I am looking for a software package to burn CDs. I currently have Easy Creator 4 (which came preloaded on my PC), which has generally done an adequate job as far as it goes.

    But since most of my recording has become compilations of material from multiple CDs, this package is no longer suitable for my purposes.

    Basic Requirements:
    I am looking for three additional features unavailable to me now.

    1. The ability to drag & drop songs from multiple CDs without the infuriating gaps that get added by most software (unless you merge, which then wipes out the indexing and alters the track numbering). This both increases the time between songs and, in cases where the tracks segue together, completely interrupts the intended continuity.

    2. The ability to fade up, fade down and cross-fade between tracks, hopefully while maintaining indexing and track numbering.

    3. The ability to adjust levels for individual tracks. One package I have seen supposedly offers this function as an auto leveling feature...one button does it all. Nice if it really works.

    So far I have received two recommendations for MusicMatch, which seems to have as many people who hate it as love it, based on the user feedback I have read. Additionally, I have seen nothing in print to establish that MusicMatch can perform either item 2 or 3. Plus one recommendation each for Feurio! and CD Wave.

    Advanced Requirement 1:
    The ability to slice and dice songs down to the finest degree...to be able to extract phrases or individual words. The ability to set my own indexing points within the resultant montage would be nice, however not all important.

    Advanced Requirement 2:
    Since I still have nearly 500 pieces of vinyl in my collection, software for transferring these recordings (or audio tapes) to disc with effective pop/click and tape hiss filtering.

    It is not necessary that the advanced requirements be a part of the basic package, but if they are all the better. It is more important to me that the individual functions for which those programs are being employed perform to their maximum capabilities.

    My current system specs are:
    Windows 98SE
    8.53GB SCSI hard drive
    128MB RAM
    800MHz CPU (Pentium III)
    Sony CD-RW CRX140E
    NEC DVD DV-5700A
    I will be upgrading sometime early next year with new specs yet to be determined.

    By profession I'm a database and market research analyst, which means that while I'm excellent at extracting information out of the system, I don't necessarily understand what makes it tick. I am basically just a major music junkie coming to grips with new technology, so any help you more experienced types can render would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Indifferentist Slosh's Avatar
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    First, scroll down to the similar threads link below and click on the "Burner software: any advice?" thread. Hard to beat the latest version of Nero for a mere $3.00.

    Second, since you'll be recording LP look into buying a stand-alone CD recorder for your stereo system (in addition to new PC CD burning software). I record all of my non-CD sources with a stand-alone on an R/W then transfer that to CD-R via the PC. Much easier to work with, albeit more expensive.
    Originally Posted by Troy: She has that same kind of cleft-pallet, slightly retarded way of singing that so many other people find endearing.


  3. #3
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    Welcome AZ!!!

    As Slosh suggests, most folks around here use Nero. I haven't used it myself, but my understanding from previous posts is that you can't do crossfades and individual track volume adjustments on it. Maybe someone who uses Nero can confirm/deny this.

    I use Cakewalk Pyro. It does everything that you've listed. It'll do fades and crossfades. You can adjust volume levels. You can cut up tracks and just pick out pieces although I'm not sure about getting it down to a single word, that might be too small a bite.

    My only complaint is that I can't figure out how to get Pyro to copy a disk without testing it first, so copying takes longer than with some other programs. Generally I use Pyro to rip and edit and then save the layout. Then I use another more basic program to burn.

    Here's a link. http://www.cakewalk.com/Products/Pyro/default.asp

    Good luck!

  4. #4
    all around good guy Jim Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ Will

    Basic Requirements:
    I am looking for three additional features unavailable to me now.

    1. The ability to drag & drop songs from multiple CDs without the infuriating gaps that get added by most software (unless you merge, which then wipes out the indexing and alters the track numbering). This both increases the time between songs and, in cases where the tracks segue together, completely interrupts the intended continuity.
    I'd suggest Exact Audio Copy, a freeware program to rip the tracks. This is a very handy program that ensures, uhh, Exact Audio Copies. When using Nero to compile tracks, you can set the gap between tracks to whatever suits your needs.

    Quote Originally Posted by AZ Will
    2. The ability to fade up, fade down and cross-fade between tracks, hopefully while maintaining indexing and track numbering.
    Nero offers this. Cross-fading with the addition of a check mark, and fading in and out with an included wav editor.

    Quote Originally Posted by AZ Will
    3. The ability to adjust levels for individual tracks. One package I have seen supposedly offers this function as an auto leveling feature...one button does it all. Nice if it really works.
    While I don't typically normalize tracks, Nero allows this to happen. Right click on the track and select properties and the ability to click on a normalize feature is there.



    Quote Originally Posted by AZ Will
    Advanced Requirement 1:
    The ability to slice and dice songs down to the finest degree...to be able to extract phrases or individual words. The ability to set my own indexing points within the resultant montage would be nice, however not all important..
    Nero allows this by including a wave editor. Simply right click on the track and select audio editor. This shouldn't be a make it or break it feature since you can also do this with Gold Wave, an excellent wav editor available as shareware. Personally I use Cool Edit Pro which can be pricey unless you're familiar with "Warez" groups. FWIW, Nero is also available via the Warez groups but they can be treacherous places for newbies.

    Quote Originally Posted by AZ Will
    Advanced Requirement 2:
    Since I still have nearly 500 pieces of vinyl in my collection, software for transferring these recordings (or audio tapes) to disc with effective pop/click and tape hiss filtering.
    I"ve not seen an effective declicker in the many years I've been doing this. While this is a popular feature, the implementation sucks. With patience a wave editor can be used to remove pops and clicks, but it takes time, lots and lots of time. A wav editor can also be very effective in removing tape hiss. Simply isolate some hiss at the beginning of a track and use that sampled noise as a template to remove that sound from the track. Results do typically vary. I've had some that sound terrific, and others that pick up some digital artifacting or ringing. Trial and error, as with most things.

    I find Nero to be very useful however it's not perfect. The image program for creating covers and such is not intuitive and to me the whole thing is a disaster. Better to burn with CD text and then pop the disc into Exact Audio Copy and save the tracklist to clip board and then paste it into MS Word, or Publisher or some program that's easier to manipulate.

    Good luck,
    jc
    "Ahh, cartoons! America's only native art form. I don't count jazz 'cuz it sucks"- Bartholomew J. Simpson

  5. #5
    Forum Regular rufus's Avatar
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    jim, what do you think of the pop/click feature in cool edit? i made a compilation disc for a friend that included lots of vinyl tracks, and was pretty pleased with the results. i only sampled the short section of the track before the music kicks in, or at the end, and applied that to the entire track and it seemed to work pretty well. there was still some vinyl noise, but not as objectionable as before. i still had to play around with the levels a bit to avoid digital artifacts. sampling the entire track and then using the pop/click feature is a pain though, simply cause it takes forever to process the track, so i rarely do that.

    for large pops, i'll either zoom way into the wav and reduce the amplitude manually, or use the "fill single click" option, which works really well. cutting the click out of the wav completely screws with the timing of the track, if you have to remove a lot of them. that's why i reduce them in amplitude.

    i've also found when recording a cassette or lp onto my hard drive adds a lot of low level background hum from the computer's electronics(must get audiophile soundcard ), so like you said, i sample a small section that's just hum, and then process the entire track, removing the hum, and lowering the noise floor, so the track seems louder, and "pops" out at you from the speakers. works really well with tapes, but with vinyl, cause of the associated vinyl rumble, ticks and pops, there's so much to process that you often do end up with digital artifacting. then it's just trail and error with the settings, or just live with it the way it is. i'd rather a little track noise than that damn digital swirling noise. it also tends to turn crowd noise from live shows into digital ringing, so live tracks need a bit more care.

  6. #6
    all around good guy Jim Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rufus
    jim, what do you think of the pop/click feature in cool edit? i made a compilation disc for a friend that included lots of vinyl tracks, and was pretty pleased with the results. i only sampled the short section of the track before the music kicks in, or at the end, and applied that to the entire track and it seemed to work pretty well. there was still some vinyl noise, but not as objectionable as before. i still had to play around with the levels a bit to avoid digital artifacts. sampling the entire track and then using the pop/click feature is a pain though, simply cause it takes forever to process the track, so i rarely do that.

    for large pops, i'll either zoom way into the wav and reduce the amplitude manually, or use the "fill single click" option, which works really well. cutting the click out of the wav completely screws with the timing of the track, if you have to remove a lot of them. that's why i reduce them in amplitude.

    i've also found when recording a cassette or lp onto my hard drive adds a lot of low level background hum from the computer's electronics(must get audiophile soundcard ), so like you said, i sample a small section that's just hum, and then process the entire track, removing the hum, and lowering the noise floor, so the track seems louder, and "pops" out at you from the speakers. works really well with tapes, but with vinyl, cause of the associated vinyl rumble, ticks and pops, there's so much to process that you often do end up with digital artifacting. then it's just trail and error with the settings, or just live with it the way it is. i'd rather a little track noise than that damn digital swirling noise. it also tends to turn crowd noise from live shows into digital ringing, so live tracks need a bit more care.

    I have Cool Edit 2000 installed and it doesn't seem to have the declick feature. My solution for vinyl is very similar to yours in that I zero down to the offending pop and then go to transform>silence. Luckily either my remaining vinyl is in relatively good shape or I'm going deaf. Either way it seems to work. Overall we seem to have pretty much the same game plan although I haven't done any transfers for a very long time. Guess I need to check out a newer version of Cool Edit.

    jc
    "Ahh, cartoons! America's only native art form. I don't count jazz 'cuz it sucks"- Bartholomew J. Simpson

  7. #7
    Forum Regular rufus's Avatar
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    be careful about transforming to silence. the absence of any sort of information at all in that space can cause a click or pop just as easily as the original flaw in the vinyl did. at least that's what i've noticed if i reduce the amplitude too much.

    since you mentioned the Warez sites(which i'm not familiar with but i assume are where you can download unlicensed software), if you can, you should pick up a version of cool edit pro(now adobe audition). it's a multi-track version of cool edit 2000, and i've found it an incredible benefit in doing the small bit that i do with audio.

    for example, much of the stuff i'm burning are bit torrented live shows, which often have flaws in the recording, such as gaps where a tape was flipped, or some digital screwup happened. in cool edit pro, if i can find a section elsewhere in the song that's the same as the section where the flaw is, or even from another version of the song, i can copy the section, split the original track at the gap into two separate tracks, and then add the copied section in as a third track. then i play around with the positioning of the tracks until the musical sections line up, so it all flows as a continuous piece of music.

    then, in cool edit pro's multi-track view, they have what are called "volume envelopes", where you can place points in the wav anywhere you wish, and then lower the amplitude of the wav between these points simply by dragging the point lower in the wav. without these, the overlapping sections of the three tracks in my example would be higher in amplitude than the areas that don't overlap. so you can easily fade transitions in and out of sections, even cutting them off sharply into silence, allowing very smooth transitions between the three separate tracks. once i get the tracks lined up and a smooth volume transition between them, so it sounds like one song, not parts of three songs stitched together, you can mix the three tracks down into one file, and replace the damaged track file with this new one you've just made.

    i've been doing this kind of thing a lot more lately as i've gotten better with cool edit, and i love how damaged tracks sound after i fix them. the multi-track feature and volume envelopes have been the coolest thing i've encountered in cool edit so far. a friend of mine told me once i used the multi-track version i'd wonder how i ever got along without it, and he was right.

  8. #8
    AR Jumbo Member chrisnz's Avatar
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    Like Jim and Rufus say Adobe Audition, now up to v1.5, does everything thing you want but is expensive. It can rip, edit, manipulate to your hearts content, arrange compilations and then burn to CD. If you're recording your own vinyl you'll need a decent soundcard (not necessarily an expensive proposition anymore) and maybe a preamp. Very cool application.

  9. #9
    Forum Regular jack70's Avatar
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    On "ripping" LP's...

    rufus, electronic noise inside a PC case is usually pretty damn high (take an AM radio and use it close-up as a signal receiver). Lots of RF noise from power supplys and switching circuits, and little internal shielding. But it's no different than a HiFi set-up where you need to take care in balancing and grounding low-level signals, and dealing with ground loops. Most of the time they aren't a problem, but they CAN be... same with the inside of a PC case.

    A higher-end sound card probably won't improve noise a lot if it's coming from certain external places. I'd advise using good shielded cords going into the PC. You can test your system by grounding the line-in input to your sound card, then making a short wav file when 1/the gain is at the normal level used, and 2/the gain is all the way up. Look at those files to see what the background noise level is, and what the difference is.

    I use SoundForge, but used CoolEdit in the past...both are pretty much the same. When doing manual click/pop removal, I CUT it out instead of lowering the vol. You're NOT going to hear time spans that small... trust me. If it's just on one channel (common) then lowering the volume to zero or mute is OK.

    Crackle LP noise is more noticable on quiet/acoustic albums, or ones that are dirtier, or were pressed with bad vinyl. If the music is loud you get what is called a "masking" effect... it's a natural psycho-acoustic thing. But quiet music often needs crackle cleaning even if the LP is pristeen.

    I spent a lot of time researching techniques for doing this, and I use an external software for it. SoundForge came out with it's own external plug-in, but I haven't bought it (since it's not cheap and I already had bought something). Certain plug ins that have too many adjustments (options) can get unweildy to use/play with... usually KISS is best (keep it simple stupid). BTW, you can pay $20K for professional stuff, which does amazing fast-fourier analysis from a digital signal, making an LP sound better than a digital master.

    I have LP dubs that sound much better when processed that way, and sometimes better than a CD (cause you can also adjust EQ etc). In fact, on one comp I had the first part of a song from a CD rip, and the last part from my LP. I'll pay money if anyone can tell the difference.
    You don't know... jack

  10. #10
    Forum Regular rufus's Avatar
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    what i meant was that you won't hear any noticeable gap from the section that you cut out, but if you do a lot of them in one track, it will cause changes in the timing of the track. probably not noticeable as well in most cases, but it is a possibility that you'll cut out enough to mess up the tempo enough to notice.

    i think there are sopundcards out there for serious audiophile work that have better shielding and resistance to interference, so the noise of the computer doesn't present such a problem. of course, they cost $400+. too rich for my blood at the moment, but if i ever put together a music editing machine.......

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